Monday, February 6, 2012

The First of Many

I just turned thirteen years old and a packaged arrived in the mail. It was Christmas morning in August, and a byproduct of old Orvis catalogs given to me by a family friend. Unsheathed from cardboard and plastic emerged an 865 Mid-flex Orvis Clearwater. My life was forever changed. I tied seven feet of straight tippet to the fly line and connected a beadhead prince nymph on the end of that. My father and I drove down the street to the local creek. I picked a inside seam along the fast water feeding the main hole. I casted upstream, controlled my slack, and eyed the tip of my fly line that suddenly stopped and lurched forward. I tied into my first trout on fly, a ten inch rainbow. I released the fish and shared the moment with my father, something I'll carry for a lifetime.

Fast forward almost thirteen years and I am standing in the creek alongside one of my best friends. We are finally fishing again and I am giving him his first lesson on fly fishing. We talk line management, high sticking, mending, and where to fish before I hand him the keys. As he progressively improves his cast and inches closer to the ideal zone, I discuss the fine line between drag and a dead drift and what will cause both. He jumps a wild brown after a few minutes and even finds his first tree. We work our way out further in the creek to a more ideal seam. I demonstrate a roll cast and a mend to get the flies to drift into the seam without any drag connected to the eddy and reverse current. Immediately after the mend, I catch a sixteen inch bow before giving the rod to him to test and feel the tension needed to keep on a fish.

Later on, he is entirely on his own having missed a few more fish. I correct when needed but he is getting it, faster than most. From behind, I show him how to extend the drift downstream by mending line out of the rod tip. On the next cast, he follows directions and ties into his first ever trout. The first of many to come. It's a rainbow, about ten inches in length and a mirror image of my first fish on fly. My mind flashes back thirteen years and I recollect many other firsts. My brother's first brown, my sister's brook trout on a dry fly, and my father's first steelhead. All vividly depicted in my mind, they are my own personal vault of firsts.

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